October - November 2016
  • Day15

    JFK Airport

    November 11, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 50 °F

    I just left my sister at her gate and am eating a really salty Shake Shack burger while I wait for my flight to board.

    We had a smooth 1-hour ride from the seaport to the airport this morning, with a friendly driver who spoke excellent English. He talked about Italy, some of his favorite Italian wines, and his hope to visit America one day. Regarding Rome, he said that he's lived there all his life and, in his 60s, he still learns new things. "A lifetime isn't long enough to know Rome," he said.

    Now that I'm alone, reflecting on the trip, here are some final notes.

    My parents had several disappointments due to my mom's knee injury and my dad's cold--they were not able to do much exploring off the ship. They never once complained, so I will take a moment to complain on their behalf: no fair! We enjoyed dinner with them each night, and quite a few other meals, happy hours, and activities on board. It was lovely to have the extended time with them.

    My sister and I are well matched traveling companions and didn't get sick of each other once.

    The Oceania ship and crew were fantastic. The food was delicious and our suite stewardess, Carla, was attentive and so much fun. 10 days was a great length for a cruise and I can't wait to go again!
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  • Day14

    Herculaneum, near Naples

    November 10, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    Herculaneum is like Pompeii, except instead of being covered with ash when Mt Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, Herculaneum was buried in mudflow. The end result is that it's better preserved. A very cool site, we could have spent another hour looking around.

    We didn't end up exploring Naples at all, because we were hungry for lunch when we got back to the port from our Herculaneum tour, and then we felt like spending our last afternoon enjoying the ship. We had high tea, said some goodbyes, took care of some business, and packed. One more dinner, one more sleep, then back to reality.Read more

  • Day13

    Catania, Sicily, part 2

    November 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    As we headed north through the city in search of a restroom, I told my sister the story of how I discovered Nossa Familia espresso bar in Portland. The story is that I was in search of a restroom in Northwest Portland and decided to find a coffee house for that purpose. A little googling led me to the highly recommended Nossa Familia, and I walked in with enthusiasm, only to find that it had no tables and no restroom. I ordered a coffee anyway, and it turned out to be the best cup of coffee ever and that's how I found my favorite coffee place.

    So, I told this story to Kathryn as we were using Pee.place to find the nearest public restroom. We followed the map on my phone to the Greco Roman Theater where there was supposedly a public w/c, but when we walked in and inquired, the women at the ticket booth seemed a little perplexed by the idea. They asked (in Italian--there's much less English available here than in the other cities we've been to this trip) if we were buying admission. How Kathryn and I looked at each other, and looked at the bit of Roman ruins that we could see from the entrance, and I said, "This might be another favorite coffee shop situation. I think we should do it."

    And that's how we spent the next 1 1/2 hours exploring this fascinating, relatively recent archeological excavation. Houses had been built on top of the ruins throughout history, so the excavation was like decluttering on a grand scale, figuring out what was worth keeping and what had to go. Kept: parts of an 18th century house, walls from a 17th century house, Roman theater, Greek base structure, and artifacts found in the excavation of the site.
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  • Day13

    Catania, Italy, part 1

    November 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    We had a fabulous day in Catania, despite the pall of the election news hovering over us throughout the day. Dad has a cold and Mom is still uneasy about walking any distance at all, unfortunately, so it was just Kathryn and I once again. After talking with the local tourist guide, we decided to walk through the outdoor fish market first. It was charmingly boisterous, with the produce sellers and fishmongers hawking their catches-of-the-day.

    Past the market was the 13th century Castello Ursino, which is now a museum. We looked at the free part, but didn't pay the 10 euros for the museum of antiquities it houses.
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  • Day13

    Valetta, Malta

    November 9, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Valetta is the port city where we arrived. We rode an open-topped bus to and from Mdina, which was slightly terrifying but with interesting views, when my eyes weren't squeezed shut against the dust and wind. We stopped at the Barrakas Garden at the top of the old city wall before heading down the lift to the port. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset as we waited for the boat to take us back to our ship.Read more

  • Day13

    Mdina, Malta

    November 9, 2016 in Malta ⋅ ⛅ 54 °F

    We spent most of our time on the island of Malta in the old walled city of Mdina, which is up on a hill in the center of the island.

    It's been hard to keep up with journaling because by the time I have some down time, the ship is rocking enough that I don't physically feel up to writing. So, I'll get the photos up and add comments with specifics later.Read more

  • Day12

    Zakynthos

    November 8, 2016 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 88 °F

    Great tour of family owned olive oil pressing business. View down to the sea and city of Zakinthos from a church above the city.

  • Day11

    Anafonitrias monastery, Zakynthos

    November 7, 2016 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 70 °F

    Fifteenth century church and monastery where St. Dennis lived. We couldn't go inside the church because they were awaiting a funeral procession, but she let us step in and have a peek.

  • Day10

    Corfu

    November 6, 2016 in Greece ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    We didn't know if anything would be open on a Sunday, but, thanks to Saint Spyridon, Corfu was full of life today. On the first Sunday in November, the people of Corfu commemorate that one time when everyone was getting cholera and Saint Spyridon chased it away. There are processions throughout the middle of the day, and the shops that would have been closed had all opened for the occasion.

    We did a little shopping, watched some of the processions, and Google maps helped us find an excellent cafe for lunch. Eating souvlaki at an outdoor cafe in Greece, then heading across the street to buy baklava from a little bakery recommended by a local a couple tables away--there's another item to cross off my bucket list.
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  • Day9

    Grotti Castellano

    November 5, 2016 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 68 °F

    These caves are well used. On the way in to these caves, we noticed signs for a dance performance, and there's also a play being performed. About 1 km inside the cave structure, there is an indoor amphitheater built of stone (no photos allowed, unfortunately). Our guide told us they show scary movies in there in the summer.Read more